Three out of the four Sundays in January, churches around the area were cancelling services because some roads weren’t safe for driving. Pastors said it’s normal for church donations to be down in months like January and July, but this January was a particular hardship because of the weather.
“The church is made up of the people, so the people’s ability to give and be present and all those things are impacted by weather,” said Rev. Kenneth Christmon, the pastor at Turner Chapel A.M.E. Church on the East Side of Fort Wayne. He said church giving has decreased this past month along with attendance.
“People want to bring their tithes into the storehouse…it has slowed down as the temperature has dropped and people have not been able to get here,” Christmon said.
However, he and Pastor Scott Greene at Sonrise Church in Southwest Fort Wayne said it’s a difficult decision to decide to close a church. Both pastors said they take safety into account when making that decision. Turner Chapel didn’t cancel any services during the month of January. Sonrise has campuses on the north side of Fort Wayne and in Roanoke. Both of those campuses closed a couple of Sundays last month even though the main campus did not. However, both pastors said their churches have seen an increase in their online and snail mail tithes.
Even though many pews were empty, some church goers said even feet of snow and sheets of ice weren’t going to stop them from coming to worship.
“I say I went to work 35 years and never missed for the weather, so why not go to church,” Henria McGee, a member at Turner Chapel, said.
Although McGee has braved snowy Sundays, many have not. However, churches do have back-up plans.
“One week we were cut in half…When bad weather hits, it does affect giving,” Greene said. “Our church has a policy, and we’ve set up an emergency fund, and we have money set aside.”
Church officials said even though there was a low start to the year, everything should equal out in the coming months. The one weekend in January where there was pretty nice weather, Pastor Greene said they had the best attendance that Sunday that they’ve had in more than a year.